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Dead Space: Martyr is a tie-in novel set in the Dead Space universe, written by B.K. Evenson. It is a Prequel taking place long before the rest of the series, and reveals the history of Michael Altman, the head figure of the Church of Unitology, and his discovery of the Black Marker, the first evidence of alien life.
The sotry can be divided into three sections. The first section is about Altman and several other scientists discovering the Marker in the Gulf of Mexico, and their attempts to retrieve it as people start to hallucinate and lose their minds. In the second part the military comes in, kidnaps the scientists including Altman, and threatens to kill them if they do not experiment on the Marker. In the final part, Necromorphs appear and invade the secret lab everyone is in, and Altman has to escape while dealing with the Necromorphs and the military.
Tropes Dead Space: Martyr has:
- Badass Bookworm: For an anthropologist Michael Altman is a very capable fighter.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Markoff and Stevens kill Michael Altman and use his earlier press conferences to make him look like a prophet spreading the "divine message" of the Marker, which leads to the founding of Unitology.
- Chainsaw Good: Inverted. Altman tries to use an old chainsaw to kill a necromorph, he experiences the usual kickback effect and almost dislocates his shoulder.
- Karma Houdini: Markoff and Stevens kill Michael Altman in a nightmare-inducingly cruel manner, and unless they appear in a future story, the bastards get away with it, presumably living the high life of having millions of deceived humans believing their every word.
- Playing Both Sides: Unitology was founded by a splinter faction in the Earth Government. Due to two hundred years of infiltration, most high-ranking members of the government are Unitologists. However, this is not known to lower-ranking members of either faction, and the two frequently clash.
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Sorta. The Black Marker landed on Earth along with the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs.
- Psychic Link: The novel pretty much confirms that the Marker actively and intelligently tries to contain Necromorph outbreaks, and usually do this by creating hallucinations of dead loved ones.
- Start of Darkness: It turns out Michael wasn't nearly as "dark" a man as you'd be led to think. The Church, on the other hand...
- Written by the Winners: Michael Altman gets this treatment in supplemental materials. In-universe he's portrayed as a visionary leader who believes the the Marker is the key to convergence and the end of all conflict and human enlightenment. In truth, he wanted little to do with Unitology and simply wanted to let the scientific community study the Marker. His death also utilizes this trope, he is stated to have been assassinated by the Government to suppress the truth. This is half-right as he was indeed assassinated by Government agents but only so they could use Unitology to what they believed to be the next stage of human evolution by turning them all into Necromorphs.